Maudsley's “Pathology of Mind”

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    GREAT as has been the growth, in recent years, on the tree of knowledge, there is no branch in which it has undergone so much actual development, as well as mere expansion, as that of psychology. Though formerly nearly isolated, being as it were but imperfectly grafted on to the main stock, curious rather than beautiful, looking irregular, dry, and withered by the blight of theology and bad metaphysics, it now presents a compact system of branches and foliage, arranged with all the symmetry of organisation; the main stem springing from the branch of biology as this does, in its turn, from that of the physical sciences; moreover, the process is still continuing, for fresh buds may be seen in the newly-formed structures, some of which, e.g., sociology, philology, æsthetics, and the science of religious beliefs are already beginning to unfold. The causes of this accelerated growth it is needless here to discuss; the principal seems to be the gradually extended application of natural law which has taken place since the impulse it received long ago from Descartes; the more immediate causes being the greater development which biology has undergone; through both induction and deduction; and especially the advances made in the physiology of the nervous system, by which a clearer understanding has been obtained of the correspondence between consciousness and bodily state. It has come to be perceived that mind, instead of being considered as a substance superadded to the body, or even as the power of consciously knowing and acting, is better regarded as the power, more extensive than the field of reflection, which highly organised beings possess, of performing their most complex actions; this regulation of action being vested in the nervous system as its peculiar function. Thus, mind appears homogeneous with life—being power similar in kind, but differing in degree of speciality. Still, the eternal mystery of the connection of consciousness with the objects of consciousness remains almost the same; the gulf still gapes widely, and cannot be bridged, though perhaps its borders may be a little more clearly defined. Also, it may still be open to discussion whether an organism possesses these remarkable powers necessarily—i.e., in virtue of its organisation.

    The Pathology of Mind.

    Third Edition. By Henry Maudsley (London: Macmillan and Co., 1879.)

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    Maudsley's “Pathology of Mind” . Nature 20, 333–335 (1879) doi:10.1038/020333b0

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